Microtestmachines Co.
microtm.comMicrotestmachines Co. ::: Products ::: Program SurfaceXplorer
::: SurfaceXplorer :::
Software package for the SPM-data processing, visualization and analysis
with option for control over SPM NT-206

Acquisition of SPM-image of the sample surface is only first stage of its study. Next important task for researcher is correct interpretation of the recieved data.

SurfaceXplorer ::: Description ::: Features ::: Examples
SusrafceXplorer screenshot

SurfaceXplorer is a 32-bit Windows-based program for visualization, processing and analysis of scanning probe microscopy data and additionally contains panel for control over SPM NT-206.

SurfaceXplorer utilizes an OpenGL technology for image presentation and transformation that provides convenient and user-friendly on-line control over the visualization parameters.

SurfaceXplorer' plug-in architecture provides flexible addition of new or updating of existing specialised functions for SPM-data processing.

SurfaceXplorer is developed by reserachers experienced in SPM operation, SPM data interpretation and analysis. It means that user receives a balanced set of functions really important in work with the results obtained by SPM methods.

SurfaceXplorer ::: Description ::: Features ::: Examples

SurfaceXplorer contains common set of functions usual for SPM data processing software (3D, 2D, 1D visualization, filtration, calculation of statistical parameters, sunlight simulation etc.) and includes advanced opportunities for the data presentation like flexible adjustment of the color palette, patterns of the surface drawing, on-the-fly zoom and rotation of a 3D image, etc. Plug-in linking option imparts to the program additional functionality.

Below, listed are functions realized in the SPM-data processing unit of SurfaceXplorer program. Functions of SPM NT-206 control unit are cited in the instrument description.

1. Functions of SPM image visualization

  • Fast preview for the data file content (thumbnails)
  • 2D presentation of data
  • 3D presenmtation of data with possibility of on-line (interactive) transfomation of SPM image in the visualization window
  • A unique function – building of a joint 3D image: a combination of 3D topography framework with a property map data
  • sunlight simulation in 2D and 3D images
  • Adjustment of image color palette by user including use of color presets, storing of user's color sets
  • Simulation of material texture (for 3D)
  • Improt / export of data files in text format
  • Import of bitmap graphic images (*.bmp, *.jpg) with conversion into 3D image (a possibility to process electron miсrographs)
  • Export of processed images into bitmap graphic files (*.bmp, *.jpg)
  • Building of a report with saving the processed images and service information in file of *.doc or *.htm format
  • A possibility of organizing shortcuts for frequently visited data folders

2. Functions of SPM-image processing and transformation

  • Leveling on scan lines: elimination of general straight line or parabolic line
  • Leveking on surface: elimination of general plane or paraboloid
  • Leveling on selection: elimination of a plane defined by three reference points, plane or paraboloid inside or outside the rectangular selection based on data inside the selcted area
  • Flattening of a scan line or selected rectangular area by interpolation of boundary data
  • Cropping of selected rectangular area
  • Arithmetic operations with SPM data matrices
  • Arbitrary or preset scaling of SPM images
  • Normalizing of SPM matrix data
  • Vertical and horizontal flip of SPM image, rotation of SPM image by 90°

3. Cross section functions

  • Cross-section on arbitrary straight line
  • Cross-section on arbitrary polyline
  • Cross-section on scan line
  • A possibility of joint analysis of profile lines for all data fields
  • Independent leveling of profile lines with elimination of general straight or parabolic line; elimination of user-defined general straignt line
  • Vertical and horizontal flip of profile lines
  • Analysis of statistic and roughness Ra, Rq, Rsk, Rku parameters for the profile lines
  • Setting of text labels in any points of profile line
  • Possibility of importing external linear data for analysis in the profile window

4. Calculation of statistic parameters of SPM image

  • Height analysis with building height distribution histogram and bearing ratio curve
  • Local tilt angle analysis
  • Analysis of local orientational characteristics
  • Calculation of common roughness parameters: Ra, Rq, Rsk, Rku
  • Calculation of nominal (projected) and full (real) surface areas

5. Special functions

  • Set of aperture filtration procedures: Medium, Pulse, 2D Fourier, Gaussian, Maximizing, Mean linear, Mean, Minimizing, Median, L:aplacian, Normalizing, Sharpness, Sharpness of 8 connected, Sobel
  • Comparison of two SPM images
  • Calculation and analysis of elastic modulus from Force-vs-Distance curves
  • Multilayer SPM image analysis (nanotomography)
  • Calculation of probe tip shape and elimination its effect from the SPM topography image
  • Elimitaion of artifacts caused by local heterogeneity in sample surface rigidity
  • Fractal analysis
  • Grain analysis
  • Isoline selection and analysis
  • Modelling of contact between surface sites defined by two SPM images and other.

Additionally, SurfaceXplorer provides option for export SPM data files of other manufacturers.

Special feature of the SurfaceXplorer software is an opportunity for direct joint analysis of SPM topography images and corresponding contrast images. In addition to their original function of the topography measurement, AFM's allow also mapping of lateral forces, phase shift, local electrical, magnetic and thermophysical properties as well as recording data of static and dynamic force spectroscopy. Analysis of distribution of the material properties over the surface and their comparison with the microgeometry helps to understand some intrinsic features of the materials and propose new ways in their improvement and reaching new preset performances.

Joint 3D image (see Figure) can combine data of two types. One of them serves as a basic data set and it is rendered as a 3D SPM image. As a basic data set, different images can be chosen but topography image has among others a priority as it describes 'fundamental' characteristic spatial distribution of the material on the phase boundary within the scanned site. Secondary data set serves as a color table according to which points on the 3D image are colored. Contrast SPM images obtained simultaneously with the topography measurement are used as a secondary data set. So, the joint 3D image combines information from two data sets and directly visualizes distribution of specific characteristics over the scanned surface site. The figure shows that the joint analysis is especially useful at researching samples with heterogeneous properties, for example, composite materials.

Joint 3D  image of topography and phase shift
Above: Example of joint analysis for topography and contrast images.
Topography data are used to build 3D frame image that is coloured according to the data from the phase contrast image. Surface of a piezoceramic material doped with silver powder. Blue color corresponds to soft silver particles, yellow color does to the ceramic matrix.One can see that silver particles protrude above the ceramic matrix, i.e. are squeeized out of it.

Joint 3D  image of topography and phase shift Right image: an example of joint analysis of topography and contrast images with the software package SurfaceXplorer.

Topography and phase shift map are rendered in joint 3D image: surface of a Diamond-like coating after friction. Initial surface is modified under friction that results in transition of constituent carbon into graphite form within spots of actual contact (the most protruded asperities). Dark color corresponds to sites with lower local elastic modulus. It means that the material on tops is softer than initial material of the coating (light color) in the valleys.

Dialog for appointment of the material characteristics
Matrix of calculated differences

A unique function realized in the SurfaceXplorer package is elimination of height artifacts caused by the non-uniform material deformation by the AFM tip at scanning in Tapping Mode.

The function takes into account real Young’s moduli of the materials found in the sample (upprer Figure) and corrects on topography image the height of the points within the scanned matrix taking information on local stiffness distribution from the corresponding phase shift image. As a result, a matrix of calculated differences in heights (Upper figure, b) is built in addition to the corrected topography image.

Cross section visualizing function includes a possibility to plot simultaneously any number of similar (parallel) profiles from the same SPM data set. For example, getting a profile from one image (e.g. topography), the software traces similar profiles (by coorditaes in the surface plane) in all other data matrices existing in the SPM data set. That function provides more precise measurement and analysis of considered features on the image including comparison of the properties different from topography data. Figure shows an example where profile from topography image is plotted with the corresponding profile from the phase contrast image. Note that some risen sites are softer than material in valleys.
Program SurfaceXplorer also features import of any linear data sets to plot and analyze them in the profile visualization window.

Cross section window

SurfaceXplorer ::: Description ::: Features ::: Examples
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